The Chicken Mine

Nobody knows the real name of the mine.
We chanced on it three quarters up a hill.
Inside, by crawling up a ramp we reached
a point to sit within a cavernous space
My son was all for clambering down below,
while caution meant I wouldn´t risk a fall.
And now, because I chickened out in there,
our family knows it as the chicken mine.
Next time we visited more rocks were down
The way below became impossible.

Each year, it´s said that light appears inside
At 12 upon the 12th of the 12th month.
One year I sat there in the dark to watch.
Nothing dramatic at that moment in time,
but photographs I took revealed a light
gradually passing on a wall below.
Solar alignments, hardly known in mines,
a mystery. The passing centuries
shifted the solstice to the 12th, perhaps.

The stones that others brought out of this mine
were quartz with a thin layer of calcite on the top.
The hills are solid crystal in these parts.
In ancient times, I think that more was seen.
That ray illuminated something else.
Some figure or a god-shaped stalagmite
once graced this cavern space, a worship spot.

Not far from Delphi, the Corycian Cave
has such a natural statue in its space.
I´ve visited and paid it my respects.

I wonder what was worshipped in this place
before the miners of prosaic times
broke it with picks and laid this god in shards.
upon the altars of their industry.

[Fiona Pitt-Kethley has published books of poetry or prose with Chatto, Abacus, Salt, and others. She lives in Spain and is a keen collector of minerals, visiting the local mines regularly and studying their history.]